Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Forest Fire

            The Black Death had detrimental affects on Eurasia. It saw to the death of an unprecedented amount of people; But there were other empire collapsing affects as well in Europe and Asia. Out of all this sadness there rose up new beginnings and unparalleled learning. It is much like when a forest catches fire (bubonic plague) and tears through the trees, alive and dead (Spiritually/mentally alive and dead people). It is virtually unstoppable, but when the fire subsides the death and destruction has destroyed much of the dead brush and made a way for new and beautiful growths (new empires) as well as fertilizing the land (planting new ideas). The grass grows back greener and the trees taller; the new growths are not stifled (Renaissance). Sometimes a forest fire (catastrophe) is necessary to bring about new enlightenment; such is the case with the Black Death.
            Throughout Eurasia, people reacted to the horrific everyday deaths in drastically different ways. Some people saw that death was inevitable and knew they must turn to God. Other people also saw that death was inevitable but reacted in a different way; they decided to live in debauchery and sin, figuring that if they were going to die, they might as well die in pleasure. Still others thought that this plague was sent from God and turned to Him in earnest pleading. Others, called Flagellants, also saw this as God’s judgment on man’s wickedness and resolved to whip and wound themselves openly. Many others responded in many other ways, the Church in Europe, for one, took a wicked path.
            Pointing blame is inevitable when a catastrophe breaks out. Blame was pointed at many different groups during this time of turmoil. One such targeted group was the already hated Jews. This gave an unruly populous (and leadership) the excuse to ravage innocent and also ill and dying communities. The Roman Catholic Church also participated in this, along with the government. Those who disagreed with them, called Heretics, or those who were minorities, such as poor older women, called witches, were rooted out. This was called Inquisition. The Church needed a way to pay for these inquisitions so they determined to sell indulgences to finance their persecutions in this deadly blame pointing game, which only caused more death.
            The Mongols were reigning in much of Asia at the time of the Black Death. The Mongols even brought the Plague to China before it had time to spread throughout the trade routes, and it is thought that the Mongols might have been the carriers of it elsewhere. The plague ultimate led to the Mongols demise. In China the Mongols were unable to cope with it and political fragmentation led to revolts and overthrow of the Yuan Empire. In the Islamic World, where the Mongol’s prized the city of Baghdad, the plague also proved stronger than the rough men. It only added to the political dissention and weakened the Mongols until their administration crumbled.
So many people were dying that workers were not producing food. So to add to the plague dilemma, famines broke out. There was political unrest everywhere as the governments simply could not provide everything the people needed; they were dying too. Religious unrest broke out in Eurasia as well, since the religious institutions could not stop the plague.  Populations redistributed as mass exoduses sought to flee death, which only caused the plague to spread, as they brought it with them. Social redistribution also appeared, as elites were killed, and unable to maintain control. There was a rise in the middle class and peasants broke out in protest. Some French people, in revolt, succeeded in killing some of their leaders, but in England the rioters were brutally crushed. Nonetheless serious redistributions and unrest broke out leading to new (good and bad) events, empires, religious institutions, learning and discovery.
            The Black Death raged on killing 25-50% of city populations in Europe. But when it subsided new empires began to blossom where the old ones had been crushed. In the Islamic World, three new and strong Empires arose out of the ashes the plague had left. In China, the Chinese were able to take back control as a most unlikely Red Turban peasant-born leader rose up. In Europe it eventually led to the Renaissance. The classics would be brought back to life in new glorified ways; through art, poetry, architecture and all types of intellectual and learning activities that would be remembered and taught all the way in the 21st century. Although the “fire” killed in vast proportions, it led to the blossoming of new beginnings.